Friday, February 27, 2009

And the winners are....

And the Winners of this wonderful gift box are.......


22 - Laura
4 - Kendra
29 - Anonymous - Sorry you missed your chance
10 - Elyse

Through the wonderful Random number generator at Random.org I was able to get these number and the lucky winners were able to win this prize. Please email me your address so I can forward it on to my sponsor. If I don't hear back with in 2 days I will pick new winners! So if you weren't picked you still have a chance!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A trip down memory lane and a giveaway


When I was growing up our cereal of choice was Cheerios. Now when I say by choice I mean my mother's choice. She felt it was the best cereal for us to eat and so eat it we did. And on occasion we got a sliced banana in our cheerios. Now that flavor I liked but the texture was an issue for me, with the banana, milk, and cheerios in one bite. So I really wish that they had this new type of cheerios when I was a kid because it would have solved all of that for me. Because that new flavor is Banana Nut Cheerios, and I was given the opportunity to get a sample of it and let me tell you it is good. So good that I had to hide it from P because that is one his favorite flavors. Why would I hide it from him you ask because as soon as I tasted it I knew what I wanted to make with it. And If I didn't hide it I would have maybe 1/2 a cup of cereal left and that wouldn't do me any good. Because these cereals bars were good, really good and I have Grace to thank for the inspiration!


So I get the opportunity to give away 3 gift boxes which include everything below except the fruit! You will receive the loaf pan, 2 cereal bowls, a coupon for a free box of Banana Nut Cheerios, and the Fruit basket. All you have to do is post a comment about what you would make with the fantastic Banana Nut Cheerios or how you would eat them! The Giveaway will end February 27th at noon CST and please leave a way for me to contact you in your comment.



Peanut Butter Banana Cheerio Bars

¾ cup of peanut butter
2 tablespoons of butter
10.5 oz of mini marshmallows
6 cups of Banana Nut Cheerios
½ cup of banana chips, broken into pieces

Spray a 13x9 pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. In a microwave safe bowl place the marshmallows, butter, and peanut butter. Microwave for 1 minute and then stir, keep microwaving in 15 second intervals until all of the marshmallows have melted. Add in the cheerios and stir to combine and spread in the pan in a even layer. Immediately top with the banana chips and press them into the cheerios. Let them cool completely in the pan and then cut into squares.



Sunday, February 22, 2009

I'm over Winter already


I have had enough of this snow already, it went away and then decided to come back. I really should not be living in the midwest since I hate the snow and cold weather so much. But I have this fear of the unknown in a lot of areas of my life but I don't know if I could do a Christmas in a warm climate it would just be odd to me. I mean no snow or cold weather at all and yet its still Christmas and you are supposed to eat winter time food when its warm out just seems strange to me. So instead of packing up my whole life and convincing P to leave the midwest, I thought I would just make something that would make me think of spring to keep the winter doldrums away. So since I'm a card carrying member of the presentation is everything club, I thought a little lime curd, fresh raspberries and puff pastry would do the trick. Nice and light, refreshing and doesn't remind me of the foot of snow outside at all. Luckily we are leaving to go on vacation in 2 weeks, and hopefully Atlanta will be warmer. Because I don't know how much more I can take of this damn cold weather. What do you do when you need to escape the cold?

This dessert is all about presentation and assembly.

Lime Raspberry Napoleans

Lime Curd

105g of lime Juice
1 tablespoon of lime zest from the citrus
72g of sugar
164g of eggs
72g of sugar
206g of butter, cold unsalted, cubed

In a medium saucepan, combine juice with zest and the first amount of sugar. Bring to a simmer. Combine eggs with the second amount of sugar. Temper the eggs with about half of the hot juice mixture and then return the mixture to the pan and continue to cook on a low heat until 165 degrees or until it start to get firm but not when its actually firm. Remove it from the heat and pour into a mixing bowl. Add butter when the mixture has cooled slightly and once most of the butter has been incorporated blend with an immersion blender until smooth but make sure you keep the blender submerged so that you don’t aerate the mixture. Then place in a plastic storage container with plastic wrap pressed against the top of the curd so it does not form a skin. Chill for atleast 2 hours and it will keep in the frigde for a week.

1 1/2 cups of fresh raspberries

2 sheets of puff pastry, cut into rectangles and baked according to the package or your recipes directions.

To Assemble -

Break apart your puff pastry into a bottom and a top. Spread a generous layer of lime curd, top with raspberries and place the puff pastry on top.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Questions



I have really been at a cross roads in my life lately. I know that food is my passion and that I'm more or less discontent with my current work situation. But I also feel stuck, almost immobile about the idea of changing it. There are so many things to consider in a drastic life change like what I am thinking about and I don't even know where to start. So I'm starting here. I think I could use some help from the blogging community. If you have started your own business or changed your career to work with food what was the lightbulb moment? What about money, security, stability? I guess with the way the economy is they are much harder questions to answer than it was before. I have the confidence about my food and the drive to make it but I don't know where to start. It was just my Dad's 60th birthday and I guess I'm just wondering what I want to do with my life for the next 35 years. There is this big idea that money equals success and I don't think that is necessarily the case but money does make life easier at times. Why does everything have to be a double edged sword?


Back to my Dad's Birthday, ever since I made him the lemon cookies last year I haven't heard the end of it. When am I going to make them again and he really likes them etc. Plus some not so nice comments about how the girl scout cookies have changed. So this year I made them for him and decided to change up some of them.

Lemon Sandwich Cookies

Ingredients
2 sticks of unsalted butter, softened
1 cup of powdered sugar
1 tablespoon of lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 cups of AP Flour
2 tablespoons of granulated sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350. In the bowl of a mixer beat butter, powdered sugar, lemon zest and salt until combined and smooth. Place the mixer on low and slowly add the flour the dough will be very stiff. Do not over mix the dough stop mixing when just combined and finish mixing by hand.
Turn the dough out onto plastic wrap and form into a disk, wrap and chill until firm at least 1 hour but up to 3 days. Once chilled unwrap the dough and place on lightly floured piece of parchment paper and roll out with a floured rolling pin until about 1/8 of an inch thick. If the dough cracks let it warm up. If you chill it longer than a few hours you will probably have to let it sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes or more.
Cut out cookies with a 1 1/2 inch round cutter, and only re roll the scraps once. Place an inch apart on a baking sheet and sprinkle with the granulated sugar. Bake until they barely start to brown. The original recipe says 15-20 minutes but mine only took 12 minutes. Once baked transfer to a cooling rack to completely cool.

Creamy Lemon Filling

Ingredients
4oz of softened cream cheese
1 tablespoon of lemon zest
1 - 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar

In a bowl mix together the cream cheese and the lemon zest until smooth then gradually add the sugar until it forms the consistency you are looking for and whisk until smooth.


To make the raspberry lemon filling I added 3 tablespoons of melted good quality seedless raspberry preserves and mixed that into half of the filling.


To make the sandwiches put about 1 teaspoon of filling between 2 cookies.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Valentine's Day My Way!


Valentines Day holds a special place in my heart. Its a day that all I want to do is sit at home and not venture out into the crazy world. The world that is last minute shoppers and the absolute chaos that restaurants are on this day. No Thank you I don't want any part of that. The last time P and I went out for Valentine's Day kind of sealed the deal for me. He was so sweet and got us a reservation at an Italian restaurant in downtown Chicago. We got all dressed up and drove downtown pulled right up to the restaurant, the valet was ready and waiting, which is nice when its about 20 degrees outside. We walk inside the restaurant and are immediately hit with a crowd of people waiting. So I think to myself wow would you really not make a reservation on Valentine's Day and just show up, how silly of them. So we walk up to let them know that we are here and the hostess in her nicest voice says Great we should be able to seat you in a hour. And I naively say but we had a reservation and she said yes I know so did everyone else here. I look around in horror realizing these down trodden people just huddled together are in the same situation that I just found myself in. So we stand there and wait because there is no room at the bar either so your only choice is to wait out in the vestibule with everyone else. So we stand there and shiver like everyone else every time the door opens and exposes us to the 20 degree weather. Finally our table is ready and what a table it is. It is about half the size of a card table and crammed into the corner, I already see this going badly as P is tall, as in 6'7 tall and this is not going to be comfortable for him at all. So we order our food which takes quite a while even though it is a limited menu and we both ordered pasta. It arrives and we eat like we haven't seen food in years. As we get ready to leave and walk out I see more people walking in with the dumb founded look that I had on my face when I walked in. I hope they brought a scarf because it will be a while.

On to present day. P loves sweets but has this amazing self control to not eat them unless I tempt him with something he really loves. And this is something that he really loves. So I make it for him and to keep things interesting this year I changed up the flavor a little and made it fit my name sake because lets face it I love salt and chocolate together. So I used some Hazelnut Salt from Lords of Salt and it is probably my favorite salt out of all of them.




Molten Hazelnut Chocolate Cake

1/4 cup of unsalted butter, softened and more for buttering the ramekins
1/3 cup of sugar, plus more for the ramekins
3 eggs
1/3 cup of flour
1/2 teaspoon of Hazelnut Salt, plus more for sprinkling
5 oz of milk chocolate
3 oz of Nutella

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter and sugar the inside of 4 to 6 standard size ramekins, make sure to shake out the excess and set on a baking sheet. In a mixing bowl cream together the 1/4 cup of butter and 1/3 cup of sugar. In a double boiler melt together the chocolate and nutella and set aside. Add in the eggs to the butter and sugar mixture one at a time. Once they are incorporated add in the flour and salt, mix until just combined. Add in the chocolate mixture and stir to combine. Divide the batter among the ramekins evenly and bake on the baking sheet for 8 to 10 minutes or until the cake is just set and no longer jiggles when shaken lightly. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Turn out the cakes and sprinkle with Hazelnut salt. I normally also serve this with a raspberry sauce.


If you would like to purchase some fantastic Hazelnut Salt. Please visit this site.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Economy and Me


So the economy sucks right now. And I am trying to be better about what I buy and if I really need something before I buy it. I'm not going to lie I do have impulse buys. I am trying to be more diligent about using all of my ingredients before they go bad. So I had 2lbs of Seckel pears left over from my pear tarts so I had to figure out something to do with them. And I also had quite a bit of almond filling left over. So I figured I liked the flavor combo before why not change it up a little with a different crust and double the almond filling because well I could eat it out of the can! So I had a pie crust thawing as I was testing a recipe for a contest. And figured I could use the other one up with these pears.
So I tried my hand at making it look pretty. Do you ever try to do that? You see something some where that looks amazing and try it at home only to find it either ridiculously easy and it makes you wonder why you thought it was so cool. Or really hard and a Big pain in the ass and you never want to do it again and will now just purchase said item from now on. Well this was the first option, I always see tarts in these nice concentric circles but think man that is has got to be a pain, and it did take like 5 minutes to arrange them but I felt pretty good about my self after that. Maybe I could work in a Bakery, but those early hours would be a killer, I like my sleep people a lot.

Pear Almond Crostada

1 pie crust
1/2 cup of almond cake filling
10-12 seckel pears
2 tablespoons of apricot jelly

Preheat oven to 350. Unroll your pie crust onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Leaving a border of about 1 inch around spread the almond filling around in an even layer. Layer on the pears in a decorative pattern. Bake for 20 -25 minutes or until the pie crust starts to brown. Melt the apricot jelly and brush it on the pears to give them some sheen.

Monday, February 9, 2009

SuperBowl 2009 Part Two


I love any type of Party and the Superbowl is no exception. But this year it was a tag team effort with P and I. He came up with the idea for the Deep fried burgers and of course made the Pork, and I took care of the rest. Now let me tell you about way most of our Superbowl Parties go, its me, P and all of his guy friends that is right I'm the only girl so basically I just cook, clean up and try not to be annoying. It normally turns out ok because well I feed them and they all like to eat! This year was no exception they were already talking about the next football party. The Draft! Yes they love football that much to sit through an all day event of who is going to what team. Boring, I leave the house on Draft day. This is the one thing that P and I will disagree on. I find the draft horribly boring to watch all day and he will retort that he feels the same way when I watch Food Network all day long. So I guess since I do that a lot he can have his weekend. :) I will help cook for this party as well not to worry but the boys can have their fun with out me. I will tell you though there better be left overs because I could eat this meal over and over, its perfect comfort food.





Vanilla Cornbread

I have made this recipe many times and love it each time. The recipe can be found on a previous post here.


White Cheddar and Smoked Gouda Mac and Cheese

16 ounces of uncooked macaroni
1/2 cup of butter
1/3 cup of AP flour
2 teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoon of pepper
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg
5 cups of milk
2 cups of Smoked Gouda Cheese, shredded
5 cups of Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded

Topping -
1 1/2 cups of panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup of butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375. Spray a 13x9 pan with non stick spray. In a large pot of salted boiling water cook the macaroni for 5-6 minutes until just before al dente. Drain and set off to the side. In a large pot melt the butter and add in the flour. Cook for a few minutes just to get the raw taste out of the flour. Then add in the milk and cook until slightly thickened. Season with the salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add in 4 cups of cheddar and one cup of gouda cheese and mix until combined. Pour the white cheese sauce over the cooked noodles and stir to combine. Pour into the prepared pan and top with the remaining cheese. Combine the bread crumbs and butter and sprinkle over the top of the cheese. Bake for 40 -50 minutes or until bubbly. This can be made in advance and kept in the fridge just put the bread crumbs on before you bake.


And of course my Husbands famous pulled pork. I will tell you this. I don't know how he makes it because he has to start it at like 6 or 7 in the morning because it cooks for 10-12 hours and lets face it I like to sleep so I never see him prepare it. All I know is that he uses mustard, brown sugar and lots of spices oh and that it tastes fantastic.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

SuperBowl 2009 Part One


I take my contributions to our SuperBowl Party very seriously and I wanted to find the perfect dessert for it. I am sick of making brownies, I feel like I have made them for every event in the world lately. But I wanted a cookie or bar so it would be portable and could sit out all day. So I scoured the internet looking for something that fit the bill. It needed to be decadent to go with the theme of the day and I wanted to be able to make it in advance so I wouldn't be killing my self the day of the game. So after going through multiple possibilities I found this on tastespotting and knew I had my dessert. These went over really well and went with the decadent theme perfectly they were chewy, caramely, and buttery all wrapped in to one with coconut and chocolate on top! I probably could have eaten the whole pan but I did not. This was my favorite part of the Superbowl menu so that is why its the first post don't worry we did eat real food too I just would rather eat dessert!


Dream Bars

Bottom Crust -
1/2 cup of butter
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1 cup of flour

Filling -
1 cup of Dulce de leche

Topping -
2 eggs
1/2 cup of brown sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/2 cup of flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 cup of coconut
1/2 cup of semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup of quick cooking oats

Preheat oven to 350. Combine the crust ingredients and press into an even layer in a 9x13 pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Combine all of the topping ingredients and set aside. Warm the dulce de leche until it is spreadable and spoon over the crust layer evenly. Then carefully spread the filling over the dulce de leche layer and bake for another 20 minutes. Cool completely before cutting.

I will say I wish these had more Topping as you tasted the bottom and the dulce de leche more than the coconut or chocolate.

This recipe can be found Here.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Double Deep Fried Burger


Yes that is right Double Deep Fried Burger. I don't know what else to really say about this burger other than its a heart attack on a plate and my husband loved it. How is it double deep fried you ask. Well first the patty is flattened to be very thin and then deep fried, hence the need for 2 patty's in a burger and then the whole burger is assembled and coated in beer batter and then deep fried. I believe the first comment about this burger was Oh Yeah its good!

Don't worry I will be posting what we ate for the rest of the Super Bowl this a just a teaser!